Sanford L. Cluett papers, 1896-1963

Cluett, Sanford L.,. 1874-1968


0.25 linear ft (1 half manuscript box, oversize folders).
Chronological arrangement.
The Sanford L. Cluett Papers feature a series of seven notebooks, and various oversize certificates. The notebooks include one volume containing RPI student surveying exercises (1896), and six others primarily documenting Cluett's work for the Walter A. Wood Mowing & Reaping Machine Co. (1914-1919). The business notebooks focus on Cluett's visits to machinery manufacturing plants throughout Europe and north Africa (1914), and the U.S. They include notes, diagrams and short diary entries relating to the design and manufacture of mowers, reapers, tractors, etc., and the administration of the plants. In addition, ammunition manufacture is mentioned, and the last notebook contains a few notes regarding Cluett's work at Cluett, Peabody & Co. The miscellaneous papers contain Cluett's 1923 professional engineering license application, trustee meetings agendas (1940-1942) covered with sketches, and other sketches. The oversize certificates (1898-1963) include certificates of appreciation, and pieces relating to memberships (such as ASME) and the military.
Born in Troy, NY in 1874, Sanford Lockwood Cluett grew up in economically comfortable circumstances and attended the Troy Academy, from which he graduated in 1894. He continued his studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and received a degree in civil engineering in 1898. In 1897 Cluett joined the New York National Guard as a private. Soon thereafter he participated in the Spanish-American War as a member of the New York Volunteer Infantry. In July of 1898 he was transferred to the First U.S. Volunteer Engineers, where he was ultimately promoted to captain. Cluett also served in the Puerto Rican campaign in July 1898. From 1904-1917 he served in the New York Nation Guard, advancing to major before his retirement in 1917. Always full of curiosity, Cluett invented the Bubble Sextant for Celestial Navigation in 1896. In 1901 he joined the Walter A. Wood Company in Hoosick Falls, New York, which produced reapers, mowers, and other farm machines. Here Cluett developed one-horse and two-horse mowers with a vertical lift on the cutting bar, operable from the driver's seat. Working here until 1919, his roles included chief engineer, vice president, and general superintendent. In 1919 Cluett became a member of Cluett, Peabody and Company, a textile firm that had been started by three of his uncles and that produced men's clothing and accessories, including Arrow shirts. His roles at this company came to include superintendent, director of research, and vice president. Cluett's most significant invention was the processing of cloth to reduce shrinkage. Launched in 1930, this process was termed "Sanforization," using Cluett's first name with the "d" dropped. Another of his inventions was Clupak, a stretchable paper that was difficult to tear. It found extensive use in shopping bags and as wrapping paper for magazines, catalogs, tires, meat, and furniture. Cluett died in 1968.
For more information see the Cluett, Peabody & Company Records at the Rensselaer County Historical Society, 57 Second Street, Troy, NY 12180. They include the personal papers of Sanford Cluett.
Cite as: Sanford L. Cluett Papers, 1896-1963. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Archives & Special Collections, Troy, New York.
Finding aid available online and in the archives.

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